INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal by the Union against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 20/97.
2. The appeal concerns two workers who are employed in the Cabin Crew Control Section which is part of the Flight Services Department. The union claims that the two workers who are Crew Control Supervisors Grade I were seriously disadvantaged in promotion opportunities following the reorganisation which took place in the section in 1990. The Union sought the up-grading of the two workers on a personal red circle basis to the grade of Superintendent. The Company rejected the claim stating that promotional opportunities were advertised and could only be achieved through the Staff Vacancy Notice process. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On the 15th of November, 1997 the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:-
"I recommend that the workers accept the Company position in this instance."
(The workers were named in the Rights Commissioner's recommendation).
On the 13th of November, 1997 the Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal on the 26th of January, 1998.
3. 1. The dispute dates to 1990 when the Company appointed six Flight Service Duty Managers (FSDM) whose jobs were almost identical to the claimants' posts. This had the effect of undermining the role of the Crew Control Supervisor. The Union contended that the new posts would increase costs to an unsustainable level and that they would be abolished. The posts of Duty Managers were abolished in 1992, however the promotional prospects of the two workers were seriously damaged and they were disadvantaged as a result of the Company's action.
2. The two workers are the most experienced in Crew Control. The Union, over the years, emphasised to the Company without success, that these appointments (FSDM's) would adversely affect the workers' career prospects. Both had every expectation to advance through the grading structure to management posts. Instead they both reached the top of their incremental scale, within a short period of Managment's ill-conceived decision. They had no prospect of promotion in the area. This will impact on their pension levels in due course.
3. The Union's very reasonable proposal is that the two workers be promoted to the Superintendent grade on a 'red circle' personal basis, on the understanding that there would not be an increase in crew control staff levels. There would be a minimal cost to the Company, and there would be no follow on claims. Both workers are very experienced and well qualified to share the duties of the existing Crew Control Superintendent. The posts would revert to one Superintendent through natural progression.
4. 1. The two workers are at the highest level of the clerical staff category i.e., Grade I. They achieved this grading as a result of a restructuring in the section a number of years ago. Although promotional prospects are limited in the Crew Control Section all staff are currently at the top Grade I. The Staff Vacancy Notice System remains available for promotional progression throughout the Company.
2. The Union is claiming the promotion to Superintendent on behalf of only the two workers and not all staff in the section. Appointment to promotional grades is conducted by way of open competition. All permanent workers are eligible to apply. The current grading structure in Crew Control is:-
Superintendent Level II - One
Grade I - Eleven
Grade II(training)- One
3. There have been many Superintendent promotional posts in various parts of the Company over the last number of years (details supplied to the Court). Neither of the claimants applied for any of these promotions.
4. The Staff Vacancy Notice process of promotion is a reasonable, equitable procedure by which the most suitable candidates are selected. The Company cannot create grades to satisfy career ambitions. While recognising the level of experience and service to the Company of both workers these alone do not justify promotion.
5. The workers' situation is by no means unique in the Company. The Superintendent grade accounts for only a small percentage of the overall workforce. The vast majority of clerical staff never achieve Superintendent grade and retire at Grade I. It is not unusual for staff to retire at lower grades.
6. That the two claimants have failed to achieve promotion to Superintendent grade is not due to any lack of promotional opportunities. In the past four years there have been over 100 Superintendent vacancies advertised throughout the Company. It is widely accepted amongst staff that it is essential to move across sections and departments in order to achieve promotion. In the case of the two claimants both expect Superintendent posts, but have made no effort to partake in the process by which these might be achieved.
Having considered the written and oral submissions of the parties, the Court does not see any basis for altering the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
2nd February, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.